The 4000 year old “Persian Apple” is a Peach!
Little known to many, peaches originated in China approximately 2000 B.C. The scientific name for peaches, Prunus persica, originated from an early European belief that peaches came from Persia (now Iran). In fact they were brought over on the Silk Road from Asia to the Greater Mesopotamia and Mediterranean regions before Christian times.
The ancient Romans called peaches “Persian Apples” for the country that introduced the fruit to the West. The peach was brought to America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and then to England and France in the 17th century. Numerous Native American tribes are credited with distributing the peach tree across the United States, taking seeds with them and planting as they traveled through the country.
According to Chinese legend, the peach was said to be consumed by immortals for its ability to prolong life for all who ate them. The peach often is an important part of Chinese tradition and is symbolic of long life.
As well, due to its sweetness and soft texture, the ancient Chinese used “peach” as a slang word for “young bride” and in many cultures has remained as a way to define pretty young women. The terms “peachy” and “peachy keen” in English are representative of this.
Peach trees are the second most commonly cultivated fruit trees in the world, after apple trees. Today China, Greece, Italy and America are major producers of peaches. California, South Carolina and Georgia are the largest peach producers within the United States. They thrive in climates with mild, cool winters and a lot of summer heat, which help lend to the fruit’s intense sweetness. That is exactly how many people would describe the climate in the Hood River and Columbia River Valley where the peaches are grown for our fruit gifts.
There are over 2000 varieties of peaches allowing them to be harvested from July – September depending on the climate and variety. The peaches we offer have a velvety “peach fuzz” skin with red blush covering much of the yellow background. Inside, the fruit is bright yellow often with deep red streaks around the stone. The flavor is very sweet and juicy.
A medium sized peach has only 35 calories, making it a perfect snack or dessert. They are also excellent sources of fiber, Vitamins A, C and E, and phytochemicals, which act as antioxidants ridding the body of free radicals and are great for one’s skin.
A ripe peach will be soft to the touch and will yield slightly when gently pressed. To aid ripening, place a in a sealed paper bag with an apple or a banana for a couple of days.
In love with peaches? Send a peach gift to yourself or a friend!